Our verdict

You really cannot ask much from a shoe, yet the Nike Flex Experience Run 11 manages to shine somehow. Its simple design may not catch a lot of eyes on the streets, but we couldn't deny that this multi-purpose trainer definitely caught the attention of non-runners, new runners, and even some “barefoot” runners alike. Basically, if you're after an entry-level shoe that punches well above its weight, we believe this is it.

Pros

  • A lot of ground feel
  • Extremely flexible
  • Plush and cosy upper
  • Even lighter than it looks
  • Great for light walks and workouts too
  • Priced like it’s always on sale
  • Good for the planet

Cons

  • Not that breathable
  • Laces easily come undone
  • Might take some getting used to

Audience verdict

77
Bad!
  • Top 19% most popular running shoes

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Who should buy the Nike Flex Experience Run 11

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Definitely buy this road running shoe from Nike if you want this:

Who should NOT buy it

There are plenty of better-quality daily runners out there that are also eco- and budget-friendly, a couple of options at the top of our heads are the Nike Free Run 5.0 and the Adidas Duramo.

If you’re looking for a trainer that is good for your flat arches, we encourage you to check out the ASICS GT 2000 10.

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The upper is plush but not so airy

As cosy as the shoe's interior may feel, it fails to provide ample airflow for hot summer runs. We found the shoe's ventilation average at best.

Testing the shoe's breathability with a smoke-pumping device, we rated it as 3 out of 5 (5 being the most breathable). It is lower than the average 3.8 for road running shoes.

In another test, we found that the mesh upper is not very transparent either. That confirms our concerns about breathability.

Finally, we took a few microscope shots of the shoe's mesh to discover how tightly knit the fabric is compared to other running shoes.

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Nike Flex Experience 11's upper fabric under a microscope

As you can see, the fabric seems to be quite tight and dense. Here is another picture for reference:

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Adidas Adizero Adios 7's upper fabric is much more breathable.

Based on our findings above, we would not recommend the Nike Flex Experience Run 11 for hot summer days. But it can feel quite cosy for the rest of the year. 

The upper fabric is quite resistant, tho

What that dense and warm upper does right is durability. It is quite surprising to see a nearly minimalist shoe with such a wear-resistant mesh!

To check the longevity of running shoes, we put a Dremel against their most sensitive part - the toebox. We hold the tool for four seconds, applying consistent force and speed to all shoes.

As you can see in the pictures below, the Experience 11 did quite well. It definitely pays back for its lack of breathability.

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Nike Experience Run 11 vs. New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4

We put a piece of white material inside the shoes to make the contrast more visible. The latter got drilled right through.

Get that semi-minimalist feel from the Experience Run 11

While not a true minimalist shoe, the Experience 11 has an air of minimalism to it. It has a pronounced ground feel thanks to the not-too-thick and firmish, but still comfortable midsole.

"Firmish" appears to be the best word to describe this shoe's cushioning. Based on our durometer measurements, this Nike falls in between firm and balanced. With a durometer reading of 30.6 HA, the shoe's foam is 20% firmer than the average.

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Disclaimer: The displayed durometer measurement is only one out of four that we took. We excluded the outliers and calculated the average for our final result.

The Flex Experience Run 11 also made our muscles work in a different way compared to a max-cushioned shoe. It is not as minimal as a Nike Free runner but we strongly recommend keeping your runs short in this shoe.

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Measuring the shoe's stack height, we found that it is considerably thinner than most of our lab-tested road running shoes. It is only 17.9 mm thick in the forefoot (6.6 mm thinner than average) and 24.1 mm in the heel (9.3 mm thinner).

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In addition, the shoe's heel-to-toe drop went from 10.4 mm in the 10th iteration to 6.2 mm. All of that screams minimalist to us.

No sign of heel slippage

There is no need to worry about your heels slipping in the Nike Flex Experience Run 11!

But do keep in mind that the shoe's heel counter is very flexible and doesn't give a lot of support in the ankle area. In our manual assessment, we rated it as 1 out of 5, where 1 is the most flexible.

Mother Nature's seal of approval

The Flex Experience Run 11 Next Nature is a welcome development for environmentally conscious wearers. We always appreciate the brands' green shifts and hope that this trend persists.

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Partly constructed from recycled materials, we were happy to find that the Flex Experience Run 11 retained its premium-quality feel. Saving the planet couldn't feel more comfortable!

Flex those flex grooves

The Flex Experience Run 11 manages to live up to its Nike Flex heritage thanks to the flex grooves on its outsole. And it is flexible as hell! The deep cut-outs allow your foot to bend as much as it can.

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The shoe's overall flexibility greatly contributes to the runner's comfort. It bends in all the right places to help the foot feel free and manoeuvrable.

Indeed, this shoe is more flexible than 99% of our lab-tested shoes!

It only took 7.5N of force to bend this Flex Experience to a 90-degree angle. That's an insane 304% less than it takes a road running shoe on average!

Disclaimer: The displayed flexibility measurement is only one out of four that we took. We excluded the outliers and calculated the average for our final result.

We also performed a manual check of the shoe's flexibility and it still proved to be among the bendiest. On a 1-5 scale where 1 is the most flexible, we rated its longitudinal flex a 1 and its torsional flex as 2.

The only problem is that the Flex Experience 11 will get stiffer in cold weather.

After leaving the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes, we repeated the flexibility test. But even though the shoe got 90%(!) stiffer, it still remained the most flexible shoe in our collection.

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Spread your toes as much as you want

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Measuring the toebox of the Flex Experience 11, we are happy to announce that this Nike is a solid medium width. In the widest part of the forefoot, it measures in at 98.9 mm which is right at the average of road shoes.

However, this Nike gets slightly narrower than average around the big toe (73.3 mm) which didn't feel restricting to us but is a heads-up to runners with wider feet.

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The Nike Experience Run 11 also comes in wide and extra-wide options, so people with broad feet need not worry when wearing these.

The Experience Run 11 is good at other stuff, too

Given the shoe's semi-minimalist build, we don't think a lot of people will seriously consider the Nike Flex Experience Run 11 as their go-to running shoe.

But with its mix of support, flexibility, and airiness, it can do a little bit of everything!

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As long as you don't expect the same level of stability as you would from a cross-trainer, the Nike Flex Experience Run 11 could make a nice companion for moderate gym training.

You'd be surprised at how light it feels

Because of its mesh upper and foam soles, the Experience Run 11 managed to catch us off-guard with how light it really is!

A semi-minimalist shoe is expected to weigh less, but the lightness of the Flex Experience is still surprising. Tipping the scales at 232g, it is significantly lighter than road running shoes on average (270g).

The Experience Run 11 has no outsole, which helps minimise its weight. However, that of course may affect the durability of the shoe since the midsole is totally exposed and not protected or reinforced by any rubber pods, something quite common and necessary in road shoes.

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Laces that won't do their job

There is much to be desired in the Flex Experience Run 11’s laces. We had a hard time tightening them because of their stiff, starchy quality that also causes them to constantly come undone.

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Pampers your feet

For a £80 running shoe, the Flex Experience 11 packs a surprising amount of comfort.

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We measured the insole thickness at 3.8mm which is close to the average of the running shoe insoles (4.4mm). And if you need more support, these insoles are easily removable and can be replaced with your own orthotics.

The tongue also contributes to the overall comfort with its 5-mm thick padding, quite close to the average (5.7). There should be no sight of lace bite around here.

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Simplicity is beauty 

The Flex Experience Run 11's no-fuss design is very straightforward and not too flashy.

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